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Oxford City Council misses benefit claim processing targets
BENEFIT claims processing targets have been missed by Oxford City Council for the past three years, a report has revealed.
In a document due to be looked at by the council’s audit and governance committee on Thursday, the council has admitted a rise in the number of claims has led to problems.
The internal targets for processing claims for housing and council tax benefit are 14 days for new claims and 10 days for changes to existing claims.
In the 2012-13 council year so far, the average response time was 24 days. It was 17 in 2010-11 and 19 in 2011-12.
Labour councillor Van Coulter, the executive member responsible for benefits, said: “I can see that it’s not ideal. We’re within the statutory 30-day limit, but we want to provide a better service.
“We have taken on a resilience contract so if we do hit difficult times some of the work can be taken on by an external agency.
“I have had discussions with senior managers and I’m satisfied that we’re making improvements.”
He said the delays were caused by increased numbers of claims compared to previous years, and a “volatile” private rental market in Oxford, which meant people had to make more regular changes to the details they registered.
A report to the committee said: “Benefit caseloads have been at increased levels for the past four years. The caseload at Oxford increased by approximately 20 per cent three years ago.”